By Ralph Epifanio
Superlatives alone are not enough to describe a recent series of accomplishments for Hatter Cross Country team runners. Working only part time with head coach Mallory Dunn-due to NCAA post-season restrictions--they have, nonetheless, committed themselves to a training regimen that is reaping team-wide success.
Leading the pack, in more ways than their captainship, are Maria Harper and Kyle Burton. Their attendance at double workouts, all-out efforts in pre-dawn speed runs, and hours-long road trips to distant races have resulted in spectacular times.
Harper, a junior, ran a lifetime best 18:49 at the February 26th Gasparilla 5K in Tampa, finishing 51st overall (out of 10, 829 finishers). That placed her 6th among the 4440 women runners, and fourth in the race's most competitive (20-24) age group.
Burton doubled at the March 4-5th UNF Spring Break Invitational, running a team-leading PR of 16:26.55 in the 5000 meter race, then adding a 4:41.08 in the 1500. Also competing in both races was Brian Dughi: 4:32.94 in the 1500 and 17:28.71 in the 5000.
Andrew Epifanio won two races in seven days: The Faith and Health 5K on February 27th (17:19), and the Run for Your Life 10K (which, unfortunately became 5.63 miles when the lead vehicle went the wrong way) on March 5th (32:23). Thus far he has three firsts and two seconds (overall) in his last five races.
Stephanie Bird won her age group, 20-24, at both the February 12th 5K Tooth Trot (22:15.7), and March 5th 3K Rhino Romp (13:03.3);
Other team members who have recently competed include Katrina McKay (2:10:08 at the February 26th Melbourne Music Half Marathon), Jasmine Chalashtori (2:10:58 at the February 27th Disney Princess Half Marathon), and Deryck Greene (second in the 18-29 age group at the March 6th Faith and Health 5K in 20:45).